Simple, hearty and healthy, Quinoa and Glazed Butternut Squash salad with spinach, cranberries and toasted sesame seeds is a delicious side or vegetarian meal.
The colors are beautiful, making it a perfect dish for a buffet table, holiday serving or dinner party. Get creative or use what you have on hand.
The recipe serves 4 good size portions, but if you are serving the salad with a substantial protein, it can be stretched to 5 or 6.
Tailor To Your Taste
- Substitute sweet potatoes for the squash. They will have more calories and carbs, but higher fiber and protein.
- Try chopped kale instead of baby spinach. Just remove ribs, chop and massage to soften.
- Sprinkle a little cinnamon on the squash before roasting.
- Garnish with goat cheese and/or cherry tomatoes.
- Use basil or rosemary instead of thyme.
- Increase the balsamic vinegar (good quality) or drizzle on some extra maple syrup or honey.
- Feel free to use any nuts or seeds for crunch instead of sesame seeds.
- Buy pre-peeled and pre-cut butternut squash. I do.
Make Ahead Quinoa Butternut Squash Salad
- One nice thing about this salad it that it can be made ahead, earlier in the day. Just let it sit on the counter while the flavors blend and serve it when you’re ready.
Quinoa and Glazed Butternut Squash Salad Recipe
- 3/4 lb butternut squash, peeled, cut in 1 inch chunks ( (about 400g)
- 1/2 tbsp olive oil
- 1/2 tbsp maple syrup or honey
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1 cup quinoa
- 2 cups fresh baby spinach
- 1/4 cup dried cranberries
- 1 tbsp chopped fresh thyme (or 1 tsp dried)
- 1 tbsp toasted sesame seeds
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tbsp good balsamic vinegar (or more to taste)
- salt and pepper to taste
- Preheat oven to 400F
- ROAST BUTTERNUT SQUASH: Toss butternut squash with oil, maple syrup, salt and pepper in a bowl. Place in single layer on a parchment lined pan (or foil-lined pan sprayed with oil). Roast for 20-30 minutes until tender and slightly caramelized. I crank the heat to 450F for the last 5-10 minutes to brown the squash more. Remove from oven and sprinkle with thyme.
- MAKE QUINOA: Rinse quinoa in a mesh strainer. Place in medium pot with 1 2/3 cups water and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Bring to a boil, then lower heat to simmer. Cook for 15 minutes. Turn off heat and let it sit for 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork and let the quinoa cool a bit.
- MAKE DRESSING: Put all dressing ingredients in a cup. Whisk to blend.
- ASSEMBLE AND SERVE: Add spinach to the warm quinoa and mix. Spinach will wilt. In large bowl, combine quinoa-spinach mixture, cranberries, butternut squash and dressing. Gently mix together. Taste and adjust seasonings. Pour into serving bowl. Sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds (note 1). Serve warm or at room temperature.
Here’s another similar salad you might like: